Classes, General, How-to, Profs, Student Life, Study

Catching Up on Readings

Now that the storm of mid-term season is done for me and the Fall Break is upon us, my mind turns to my neglected readings and upcoming essays. This year, I had the unfortunate luck of having a bunch of mid-terms one after another. By the end, I felt completely drained and ready for relaxation. But after a bit of relaxation time, I realized that I was two weeks behind on readings in all of my classes. Oops. In my majors of English and Book & Media Studies, I have a lot of readings that range from novels to textbooks. When I looked at everything I had missed out on over two weeks, I noticed that I was behind on over 500 pages of readings total (granted, that total included a 250 page novel). I’ve started the process of catching up on those readings and trust me, it’s important to do so. Every year, my profs have emphasized two key aspects to success: attending class and doing the readings. They know what they’re talking about, so take their advice! So far, I’ve learned a few things about this process.

Picture of a U of T folder on a table

This is the U of T folder that I keep my random scribbles of notes in before writing them nicely in a notebook.

Prioritize what needs to be read first.

I looked at my colour-coded schedule (I’ve mentioned previously how much I love it) and noticed that I had an essay due in one of my courses in two weeks. Knowing that I needed to reference the material in the readings, I prioritized tackling those readings first, so I would be able to begin my essay. Next, I looked at which readings were the longest. For example, I knew that my 250 page novel was going to take me some time to read, so I knew that was a priority as well. I also take notes along with doing my readings, in order to remember important concepts. Prioritizing the longer and more time consuming readings have led me to figure out what’s more important…at the moment.

Skimming effectively is sometimes the best option.

Some of my textbook readings have chapters with sub-sections/subtitles and bold text. If I’m pressed for time, I will skim through each of these sub-sections by reading the first sentence of the sub-section, the important bold text, and the last sentence of the sub-section. For each chapter, this will allow me to pull the key ideas out of the reading and add them to my notes. I only use this option if I’m extremely pressed for time and haven’t glanced at my readings at all. When I find some free time, I try to go back to that reading and do it thoroughly, especially before the final exam.

Picture of open notebook and textbook

I feel very accomplished when I finish a reading.

Lecture notes and professors can guide your reading.

More often than not, I will have lecture notes about the readings that I haven’t read yet. Referring back to my lecture notes lets me know what my profs thought were the most important details regarding the readings. Also, my profs will often reference specific pages or passages that were significant, so I will look at those first when catching up on readings. With this option, I’m also able to get in contact with my profs about any clarification regarding readings or concepts from my lecture notes.

Readings may go to the back of my mind when essays and tests are approaching, but they are important for understanding my courses. It may be difficult to catch up on readings when there are upcoming deadlines, but contact your profs if you’re having any issues. Profs are happy to give advice regarding how to do well in their courses and if you don’t understand something, they’re willing to explain!

Have a happy, restful Fall Break everyone and try to get ahead on those readings and assignments (between naps and relaxing, of course).

Do you have a tip for catching up on readings? Let me know in the comments section!